Wednesday, September 4, 2013

IWSG: Being an Aspiring Writer and a Bookstore Employee

Hello all!  Here's another IWSG post--where we talk about our achievements and insecurities on the first Wed of every month!  I want to thank Alex J. Cavanaugh and her co-hosts for managing this most amazing (and inspiring group)-- you all kept me writing at least a post a month when writing and living was hard--so, I am amazingly thankful for this group and all of the hard work that is poured into it.  That said, the group is about to get even more awesome-- check out the news here, and all the wonderful participants here.

Being an Aspiring Writer--

I, like anyone hoping to publish at some vague point in time, pile through the blogs and books on writing and publishing.  I sort through all the information and make up my own mind about just what I should do in order to start my career on the right foot.

I'm obsessed with the "right foot." But the proper tactic seems so be mired in an over abundance of information and choice.  Wheedling through the options can be exhausting, and yet with the goal of eventual publication in mind...I can't stay away from reading news about the industry or the options available, down the road.

Working  at a Bookstore--

Then there's the whole aspect to publishing you learn selling books to readers.  That is enough to intimidate even the most  determined self-marketer.

Readers by what they hear about on radio, tv, or from a friend, or what is assigned by their book group. That is sort of where traditional publishing comes in.  But the authors who sell already have a presence (more often than not). Cheryl Strayed's "Wild" was a good example of this.

Her travel narrative was supposed to have been a "debut" but when it was wildly successful suddenly a novel and a self-help book she had previously published were reissued and the self-help hadn't previously had her name on it, as it derived from her "Dear Sugar" column in a paper.  So a debut wasn't really a debut after all...

So what does that mean?

Then there's the fact that new authors are increasingly having a particular statement plastered on their mass market paperbacks (in the SFF section): "First time in print!" Which seems to indicate that there is a rising list of successful books selling only as e-book and that, perhaps, an author needs to sell successfully as an e-book before a publisher considers a print run?  Could that be the case?  And if so, what does that mean for the royalties?

It starts to make me wonder, looking at my bank account, if, for a writer starting out now traditional publishing is a (fiscally) viable first step, or if it is more important to prove oneself through self-publishing and a successful promotional effort?

Successful promotional effort--

Most self-published authors who do readings/meet & greets at my work have tiny audiences.  They may or may not have FB pages, or author pages, or websites.  They may or may not have had a professional artist or designer assist with the cover design.  They may or may not attend events regularly, have community connections, or get their event listed in local papers.

I have been doing all I can to gain interest for the events, but internet-based marketing is (unfortunately) only one aspect to my job, rather than the whole of it.  So I'm limited, and the authors' promotional efforts need to be top notch.

So it seems to me that I can piece together from these experiences what I *think* could amount to a successful promotional effort, but seeing the authors in the store--some of whom are blatantly brilliant--but also make a subtle splash in the only remaining bookstore selling exclusively new books in the vicinity of the downtown area of our city, makes that seem daunting.

I hover here, writing, revising, and watching.  And doubting that even as I learn more about the book industry that my knowledge will lead me to make any greater a splash in an Amazon-dominated industry.